Are Parents to Blame


I read an article / review on the movie We Need to Talk About Kevin and it got me wondering. How much blame should society and does society place on the parents of monsters?

Eva  has been emotionally made empty. Her teen son Kevin went on a well-planned and executed high school killing rampage. Forced to still live in the community shattered by the massacre so she can visit Kevin in jail, she is a pariah.

The question of guilt – are the parents guilty when their children turn into serial killers? Should we blame them? Six months after the Columbine Massacre, polls showed 85 percent of Americans held the parents responsible for the shooters’ acts.

Just like Joyce Flint, Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother, Eva is condemned as a “Monster Maker”.

Eva leads a solitary life in a small run-down house. Like Joyce Flint after Dahmer’s arrest, no one will hire Eva. Finally she lands a job in a travel agency, but her co-workers refuse to even look at her. As Eva relives everything that happened, we go back through her horrifying ordeal to the beginning.

Eva was a free spirit travelling around the world in a hippie idealistic way. She married Franklin  and they moved into a New York City downtown loft. In a foreshadowing of what will come, having a child does not look to be a joyous event for Eva. We see her in the hospital room immediately after the birth. She is frozen. She is empty of feeling.

Eva cannot bond with her baby. He cries constantly. Eva can offer the baby no comfort. Kevin exhausts her with his crying.

“Mommy was happy before Kevin came along.”

Eva and Franklin move to a large suburban house with Kevin. Eva stays home trying to teach the toddler, who refuses to speak.

Kevin does not wear pants, only a diaper. He refuses to be toilet trained as he becomes older. He delights in making his mother change his feces-soiled diapers. He is cruel and verbally abusive to Eva and destroys her “room of her own” that she has lovingly decorated. In a fury, she pushes him, injuring his arm. At the hospital, Kevin lies for his mother. Now, whenever he wants something, he strokes his arm. He’s got Eva guilt-ridden and frightened.

Kevin forms a loving bond with his father to spite his mother.

Eva and Franklin need to talk about Kevin. But they never do.

Much more here 

The Original Book

I have said before that a serial / spree killer has many more victims than most realize. The ripple effect of these crimes affects so many, including the killer’s family.

Imagine being Ted Bundy’s mom for a minute. Or Dennis Rader’s kid or wife. How many times have they been asked how did they not know, how does it feel to have lived with a monster, what was he really like? Accusations, insensitive comments and the fact that you now have to live knowing that you loved a “monster”.

That seems to be what this book and movie are about. I admit I have not read the book (I am going to Kindle it soon though) and I have not seen the movie but I plan on doing both. Even without seeing them the questions stir.

Do we hold the families to blame? Should we? How much blame should be placed on the families?

I am very sympathetic to most of the families of the monsters. There are a few cases that I think the parents dropped the ball but when you boil it down to the bones it is the killer who is to blame for their own actions, no one else.

I have met many people who came from horrid families and upbringings that grow into wonderful adults. I have known abused children who grow up to help others in many ways. Somewhere these people make the choice to be positive, good people.

I believe that the killers make the choice to kill. No matter how they were raised they are the only ones that can stop themselves. The killers are the only ones that can start killing.

Even if Johnny the Homicidal Maniac had gotten a few more hugs and cookies while growing up he’d still have went on to be a killer.

In the case of teens I do look towards the parents a little bit more. Not so much to blame for the killing but to see how much could have been prevented.

In the Columbine Massacre Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were building bombs and stockpiling weapons in their parent’s homes. Other people had come to the parents with concerns and the two had been in some trouble before. The parents ignored red flags. The parents were not abusive but they obviously did not pay much attention to what their kids did.

Do I think that the massacre could have been stopped?

 

Well, I do wonder if the parents had looked for and found the stashed weapons, separated the boys and got them some serious mental health care could it have been prevented? Possibly. Then again, it might have only delayed the action to a later date.

I can not say that the parents are to blame for the actual killing. Those 2 seemed determined to kill and there may have been nothing anyone could do to fully prevent it. I will admit that I think both sets of parents sucked at being parents (provide things but that is really it) but I can not blame them for the massacre. I do point at them for not noticing the small arsenal which included homemade bombs.

I say that on Tuesday, April 20, 1999 the only ones planting bombs and shooting at people were Dylan and Eric. They are to blame for the deaths. No matter what it was ultimately their decision to go on a killing spree rather than doing something or anything else.

I think that in most cases the family of the killer is another victim. I think it is a shame when socitety adds to their pain by pointing fingers. I know that people just want to make sense of things, they want to understand how and Why the killings happened. They want to blame someone for the killing and pointing at a monster carries only so much satisfaction once the monster is caged.

What are your thoughts?

 

  1. Jen used to work in prisons, and she’s known some people diagnosed as psycopaths. It’s amazing the havoc they create in the lives of so many people. So, are they born that way, is it caused by environment, or both? I guess that’s the question that determines whether we need to blame parents.

  2. I did get the book and it is excellent.
    It expresses that Kevin is born ‘different’. He is born “cranky” as a toddler he is distant and that follows to his teen years.

    Most of what I have read indicates that it is a mix of being born that way and you upbringing.

  3. Great post, and a very interesting topic. I think I have always believed that it’s a mixture of something being “off” at birth, mixed in with the environment they grew up in. Maybe they are born with a dormant violent trait that is set off by their environment as they get older. I’m not really comfortable with blaming the families or loved ones, as some serial killers seem to have grown up in perfectly fine households. I also agree with you in that I know some people who have had absolutely horrible childhoods with horrible parents and have turned out to be some of the nicest and most caring people I know.

    I think I may have to get that book now…

    • The book is extremely good. It is not based on a real story yet as I read interviews with some parents of killers and well as information on killers makes me positive that the author did her homework.

      The ” dormant violent trait” is something that many researchers have looked at. It does hold some wieght. You must add in the environment as well as the choice aspect. There comes a point when a killer has to make the choice to kill.

      You can order the book from kindle.
      🙂

  4. Very interesting to think about isn`t it.

  1. April 2nd, 2013
    Trackback from : Real Life Monsters

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